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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Saving money with a baby

Babies are expensive. For being so little, they sure use a lot of things that cost money. Sure, some aren't really NEEDS, but they do make things easier. Here's a few tips to keep from breaking the bank.

1. Avoid furniture from the baby stores. A dresser is a dress no matter what it's called. Just because it's labeled "nursery" or "baby", doesn't mean it's any different. This is similar to wedding planning when the second you hear wedding/bridal, expect the cost to double or triple. Even the simple dressers at BRU start around $300, so go up $900! $900 for a frickin dresser in a baby's room?! The majority seem to be in the $500 range. Instead we used Ikea for our dressers. We have 2-4 drawer Malms side by side and 2-3 drawer Malms (1 in the closet and 1 near the crib). Even better, these were items we already had so extra savings. We use 1 for toys and shoes, 1 for blankets and bibs, etc, and the larger ones for clothing/accessories/bath stuff. You can get all 4 for $360. WAY cheaper and WAY more storage. You don't need that much space, but since we had them, I separated things more.

To see ours in action check out the nursery tour.

2. Re-purpose items. Go through your storage area/garage for things you no longer use. Besides re-using our dressers instead of selling them for something else, we also found things that had been sitting unused. We had a white shelf that we'd meant to put up in the laundry room so instead it went above his dressers for robot stuff. We also had 2 matching white sets of hooks that were perfect on opposite sides of the closet for hanging fave outfits, hooded towels, Boba, etc.

3. Get crafty. This goes along with re-purposing somewhat. If you can't find the perfect item to match or the item you want is too expensive, find a way to DIY it. Our nursery theme was robots which weren't always easy to find and when we did, it was usually so pricey. So, for things like the lamps, I found simple square ones and covered them in fabric. Rather than spending $80-$100 on the mobile I loved, my mom made one by swapping out the objects on a clearance mobile with robots. The bookshelves we liked that held a ton of books were super pricey so my husband got to work and made some himself that were better than any we could have bought.


#4 Buy in bulk. This also makes you less likely to run out of things when you need them. Buy the biggest box of diapers. Go to Costco/Sams for wipes. We've only had to buy wipes once after we used the ones we got as gifts and it was a huge box from Sams. We're almost out now at 7 months. We got blessed with tons of diapers so we've never had a problem with running out (still have 10 boxes left! WOW!).

#5 Stock up during sales and use coupons. The baby wash we use is kinda pricey (Mustela). So, last time BRU had a huge sale on it (it was like buy 2 get 1 free + 20% off  I think?) so I bought all the things we use the most. Retailmenot.com is a great place to check for coupons and I always check before buying online. Ebates is also a great way to get money cash back. (If you aren't on ebates yet, please use my referral link to sign up. It's great!). BRU and BuyBuyBaby often have coupons and most will take their competitor's coupon. We also used a great sale to try out a few different pacifier and sippy cup options to see what he liked best. Always compare prices with other stores and ask if places price match. If I don't happen to have a coupon with me, I always ask at the register if they have any going on. This works about 1/2 the time.

#6 Register for everything you might want. Even things you think no one will buy because they are too expensive or too small. The main reason for this is that many places send a coupon right before the baby is due for you to complete the registry. So you'll get about 10% off anything that's left on your registry. This is why I did a few different registries.

#7 Buy used! This is where I really saved the most money. So many baby items are in great condition when they are used because they outgrow things so quickly. We bought new on the crib and carseat for safety reasons, but so many other things were bought used. BOB jogger that had maybe been used twice, a high chair that had been used once, changing table, swing, exersaucer, jumper, bassinet, pack and play, walker, toys, clothing, etc. We have so many toys because of buying used that he'll never get bored. I like to swap out the toys he plays with every few weeks. It also is a cheap way to find out what he likes since every baby is different. I know a lot of people don't like buying used, but really it's as good as new once you take a little time and clean it.

This whole pile of toys cost $20! Some of his faves are in here!


 
Tons of CUTE clothes and a bunch of toys for $45. 



Some things to think about when buying used:
-pay attention to sizing on clothing. Some used clothes end up not being the right size if they were washed wrong and shrunk. Also think about seasons when buying in advance. I like to be prepared and buy when I see a great deal so I have to think about what size he'll be in when wearing them. I don't need size 12 months yet, but when I saw a great deal for winter clothes in that size, I snapped it up. Better than waiting til the last minute and buying something expensive.

-Don't buy any stuffed animals that have built in music devices. There's no good way to really clean them. A lot of toys luckily have removable sound things so you can wash them.

-Check for battery operated parts before hosing things down or putting them in the wash. This sounds obvious, but some are hidden pretty well. We've ruined a few things by being too quick to pull out the hose. Luckily some that made it through the wash came out still working.

-If you can, make sure they work. Ask the person if they have batteries to check or bring some with you when you pick up.

-Buy in lots and ask for a deal for buying multiple items. People are likely to go lower to get rid of a lot at once.

-Make sure all parts are in place and nothing is cracked or broken. A small crack could make something less stable or could scratch your little one. Skip the things that have damage.

-For cleaning: Things with batteries, I use clorox wipes to clean them off. It makes it easy to get it all the nooks w/o ruining the battery compartment. I usually wipe it down with a damp rag after so it's safer for baby. For cloth toys and stuffed animals, I throw them in the washing machine. My washer has a no spin and low spin option so I use whichever is best for what I'm washing. For most plastic toys that don't use batteries, I put them in the dishwasher. For big items like the jumper and exersaucer type, we take off the parts with batteries and hose the rest down using a sponge and soap to scrub them down. Some toys look pretty dirty and I've considered skipping them, but it ends up being a lot quicker than I think it will and they come out looking as good as new. I usually just work on them while watching TV so it doesn't feel like work.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Flying with a baby

All of our family (and most of our friends) live out of state. This means we will probably be having MANY flights in the Mini Minch's years. Our first trip happened when he was only 3 months. Luckily for the first time, it was both me and the hubster. It was good prep for my first solo trip with the little guy the next month. Both of those trips had layovers both ways, which means 8 takeoffs and 8 landings. Yikes. Not to mention time between the flights to occupy a baby. Since it can be stressful to fly with a little one, I figured I'd give some tips based on my recent experiences.

Let me tell you, I was a little nervous the first flight and thought about being one of those extra awesome moms who make a treat bag and hand out earphones. But...yeah...ain't nobody got time for that.

When it comes to packing, remember for the most part you'll be somewhere that you can grab things you forgot. Or just buy things if they are too big to pack. To save space, we only packed enough diapers to last us the flight and drive to our destination. We just bought a pack of diapers both places we ended up going. Saved us a ton of space. We bought travel containers for his body wash/lotion. We didn't bother bringing diaper rash cream or meds since he wasn't using any when we traveled and if it was something we ended up needing, we could just run to the store.

We got lucky and didn't have to travel with a pack and play or travel crib since we were meeting family both times and we chose to have them just buy used ones. It ended up being cheaper than either paying for an extra bag or renting one, plus they'll get use multiple times in future trips. If that's not an option, look into rental companies near where you are staying. It might be worth the cost to rent it and have one less item to have to carry around in to the airport.

As far as lap vs their own seat, at a young age I think it makes more sense and it's easier to have them in your lap. Not only will it save you money, but you also don't have to lug around the carseat. Plus, if they are on your lap you can comfort them and keep them occupied. While it takes up a decent amount of space, I recommend bringing a boppy type pillow. The regular boppy is too large for flying, but this one was the perfect smaller size to fit in my lap. MiniMinch slept on this almost the entire time we flew. If you buy from there, use code  Bump50 and it will be free, just pay shipping. :) 

If you are nursing, try to time feedings for takeoff/landing. The sucking will help keep their ears from popping, kinda like how you chew gum for flights. This helped a TON for us. He would start nursing and then typically just be asleep by the time we were in the air. Honestly, I pretty much just kept ready to nurse at all times because if he'd wake up, I'd just nurse him again. It was the easiest way to keep him satisfied. If you aren't nursing, try a bottle or pacifier since it will work the same way. Between nursing and BLW though, it saves me from having to carry formula or special food.

Dress yourself and the baby comfortably! Slip on shoes and no belt if you can to make security easy. I was actually quicker getting through with a baby than almost everyone by themselves because of that. I also don't bring any liquids in my carryon so that saves me from pulling stuff out. For MiniMinch, I usually opt for a romper when we fly. They're just as easy as a onesie, but they look a little nicer. If you're nursing, a comfy top that pulls up easily with a cami underneath. 






Now the big things...strollers and carseats. IMO it's easiest to drop the carseat at checkin. This is why we chose the lap option. That thing is too bulky/awkward to deal with in an airport. Also, make sure if you are still in an infant seat, you don't forget the base! We almost did the first flight since we we're so used to just grabbing the seat out! As for the stroller, we chose to keep it with us rather than only use a carrier. The main reason: even if we were carrying him on us, we could use the stroller for our carryon. It also gave him somewhere to sit while we had meals while waiting. To save space, we packed the Boba in our suitcase and instead I used a ring sling for carrying him. It was easier to slip him on/off while seated plus it doubled as a blanket to throw down during layovers, plus it could be used as a cover for nursing if you need more privacy.


We kept our carryons as light as possible and only used a backpack. For him we only brought 1 outfit change (which we never ended up needing any flight), 1 pacifier, and 2 toys-one that rattled and one that was softer. We brought his fave robot toy since it has a good amount of things to keep him interested. And to save space in the bag, I just hooked it outside to the backpack strap. I also made sure not to give him this toy a few days before the trips that way he wouldn't be bored by it on the plane.


For his diapers, we used the same diaper clutch/changing pad that we use every day. I HATE carrying a diaper bag and this thing typically fits in most of my larger purses. Has everything I need together and it's plain enough that Mr. Minch can just take it when he needs it. I can't find the exact one we have online, but it's really similar to this one. I love that it gives a clean place to put the baby on (airports/airplanes are GROSS), has a place for diapers and wipes, and has baggies to put a dirty diaper in. And it takes up very little room in a carryon.

Overall, the most important thing to do is try to stay calm/relaxed! If baby gets cranky, try to have a sense of humor about it. Joking helps and people are less likely to give you the evil eye. For the most part, he was amazing. We got tons of comments about how great he was and they didn't even realize there was a baby most of the time. I'm attributing that to good flying karma from all those years when I used to bring toys for kids in my carryon and help other parents when their kids got fussy. He did have one meltdown at the end of a flight thanks to a dirty diaper, but we just joked about how we were all sick of flying and everyone was saying that they're surprised he was good that long.


For both trips he was too young for sunscreen so we didn't have to pack that, but will use a travel container for the next trip. Instead we brought hats to keep him covered and for the beach we got him a good floaty that had a sunshade. We got our float from Walmart and chose it because it folds down easily into a little bag so simple to pack. It also had the most coverage with the shade. He was a little small for it (he was only 3 months instead of the 9 month minimum) so we broke a pool noodle in half and stuffed it around him. lol It worked great.




More baby led weaning

Since Mini Minch has been doing so good with the BLW, we've even adding a ton of new foods. We rarely need I make something separate for him now and just pull out his portion before we salt ours.

We haven't been doing the 2-3 day wait for new foods anymore. After a month, so far he hasn't had a reaction *knock on wood* and we have no history of allergies. This means we've been giving him more than one food at meals making it a bit more fun for him. 

Here's some new things we've tried: 

Part of a bagel. Make sure that any bread you give is toasted to minimize choking risk. He loved it and it's one if the first things he's really eaten completely without dropping any. He definitely scared me while eating it because he would put the whole piece in his mouth. He didn't gag at all though surprisingly.



video

Next day he chowed down on an apple. I just ate a bite all the way around so he could dig in. 



video


We also decided to give him his first taste of ice cream later that day. They ice cream truck just happened to go by so we had to grab something. He only got a few tastes, but seemed to be a fan. 
He's been waiting to try this since right around 4.5 months when he tried steal some. 

Since he's been doing so great with eating and hasn't had any allergic reactions, we finally feel comfortable introducing multiple items at once and giving him a few things together. His first chance was breakfast. We gave him a small amount of everything we were having (minus the bacon).

 The pancakes seemed to be his fave.
Eating some chicken. We made pad Thai so I just pulled out a few pieces before throwing it in the sauce.

This time he just ate exactly what we had. Mississippi roast, cauliflower mash, and broccoli. The broccoli was the first thing that's really given him some trouble. He gagged quite a bit on it and once he coughed it out he wanted nothing to do with it. So, we'll wait awhile before we give him that again. He LOVED the cauliflower mash though. 
As you can see he gets mad when he doesn't have anymore food. lol 
  video

This day we planned on letting him feed himself an organic Sprouts packet. He's like them in the past and does a pretty good (yet messy) job of it. Yeah...well he wanted NOTHING to do with it. He saw our food and gave us a look like "are you kidding me?! I'm not eating this mush while you eat meatballs!". So, he got meatballs and baked beans with us. He ate them like a champ and was NOT happy when they were gone. 
 Trying to get the beans in his mouth.
 Nom nom
He also got to try some chicken, turkey, and brisket at dinner the other night. I just took a bit off my plate before adding the BBQ sauce, that way he wouldn't get TOO dirty at the restaurant.

I'm sure there's a few others I'm missing, but these are the majority of them. We're still LOVING BLW. And it's a good thing since apparently he has no interest in even the packets now. He is actually eating a majority of it now and is always wanting more. And (TMI), but you can definitely tell that he's eating real food now. The diapers have definitely changed and they stink! lol It's time to get a 2nd diaper genie for downstairs now I think.
 
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